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Why I Left the Church ~ A Big Fat Correction

Last week I wrote in my blog about why I left the church. I began with these words:

Recently my wife and I had dinner out with friends, both of whom are ministers (which meant all of us were minsters!). A family walking by our table – mom, dad, son and daughter – paused and said hello. When they were gone my friend said they were leaving the church because her church welcomed LGBT people. Mom and dad didn’t want son daughter to be exposed to that kind of environment. In response I said I had left the church for the opposite reason. Here’s a bit of why I left.

After my friend, mentioned in that opening paragraph, read the blog, she emailed me saying I had got it all wrong. The family in question were not leaving the church because the church was welcoming of LGBT people, but instead because the denomination had failed to agree a policy that would have allowed local churches to conduct same sex marriages! Besides being embarrassed, I feel like a real ass. How did I get that so wrong? A couple of things jump out at me.

First, I am reminded that memory is a combination of recall and construct. I remember we had been talking about the denomination’s failure to agree on same sex marriage at its general assembly, and my friend was saying that she had gay couples in the church wanting to marry. The family walked by, paused, said hello and my friend said, “They’re leaving the church over this” or something like that. I assumed the parents were more evangelical than liberal and were thus leaving over the “gay issue.” I couldn’t have been more wrong! Thinking back, now I see that my friends comments about the failure of policy, the inclusiveness of her local church and the family leaving all fit. So why did I assume the opposite? Well, that leads me to the second thing that jumps out at me.

I think this was the first time in all my years in the church and ministry that I heard of liberally or progressive Christians leaving because the church was failing LGBT people. Through the years the, sometimes loud background, noise has always been evangelicals and fundamentalists saying they would leave, or actually leaving, if the church accepted LGBT people as fully human. It has been a rather constant threat. I have never heard a liberal person say they were leaving because of perceived injustices. Oh, I’ve had many a conversation through the years about being tempted to leave, but I personally have not known a progressive to actually leave. We usually stay around, even when things are difficult. I have wondered from time to time, if we liberals threatened to leave, and to take as many people with us as we could, whether or not we would have made more progress and, for example, would have won the day on same sex marriage. We’ll never know. It’s not in our DNA. It won’t, and shouldn’t, happen. We leave, I am sure, but rather more quietly and alone.

Well, a big apology to the family and to my friend for getting this so wrong.

Copyright © 2014 Dale Rominger

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